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Decisions




Chapter Three






Bloody, sanctimonious bastards! How dare they, how bloody dare they treat me like this ... I'm a Malfoy, a Malfoy for the love of Merlin....

Pale and livid, Draco glowered maliciously at the be-freckled Weasley stood by the weather-battered door. His hard, grey eyes glittered with abhorrence.

Insufferable, bloody, red-headed prat, he thought spitefully, as a calm and collected Fred stared back at him through narrowed eyes. Who does he think he is ... my bloody watchdog!

Face half hidden by the nights shadows, Fred just stood silent; watching him impassively, as if he were reading his spite-filled thoughts. The ferret was obviously in a volatile frame of mind, he could see, and looked ready to explode at any moment. Fred decided to tread carefully from here on; the last thing he wanted (or needed) was a duel of words with the overtly disturbed Malfoy spawn.

"Ginny likes you...." It was a statement, an open ended question, a deliberate pause, a means to gauge his reaction. Fred watched him carefully: taking in the tightly clenched fists, noting the pale-haired boy's fearful expression.

"What of it?" Draco demanded, his words sharp and sullen as he eyed the older boy suspiciously.

"Nothing...." Another pause and measuring eyes. Fred crossed his arms across his chest and waited for Draco to fall into his trap - the ferrety git took the bait.

"Tell me what you mean - what you're implying ... You don't like me - I fucking hate you, get to the point Weasel ... Tell me what you're bloody thinking-"

"I'm thinking," Fred jumped right in, cutting off Draco's stream of vitriol. "That, for some reason, Ginny likes you - and our Ginny's not a fool ... I'm thinking about what it is she sees in you - what it is that the rest of us can't...."

Draco stared back at him, his throat constricting convulsively. He could feel his nails bite deep into the flesh of his palms; deep enough to leave welts, deep enough to draw a little blood, deep enough to make him fear for his sanity. His eyes felt raw, raw, arid and wide - as if he hadn't blinked for hours. This had to stop; he must stop staring, he had to stop these escalating emotions before his impending insanity became more than just an act, he must blink....

He hesitated, he blinked, and a semblance of sanity came creeping back.

Back on the brink, he felt rather breathless and realised he was panting. Dear Merlin, he thought as the realisation shocked him. I'm going insane! These holier-than-thou idiots are driving me insane! This was not a comforting thought though, as he knew well enough who the person responsible for this was - and he was in no bloody way holy! However, really, these strange trances of his were increasing by the day and it worried him. His throat would tighten, his pulse and heartbeat would seem to falter, and he would find himself staring mindlessly at nothing. A light sheen of perspiration would cover him and his mind would become an empty void, where dismantled thoughts would dance and skitter, just beyond the point of lucidity. Here they became an itch; an itch lurking beneath his skull; a maddening itch that would not go away, an itch that always remained just under the surface. Oh, yes, indeed ... He certainly had cause to be worried. Suddenly, a voice broke through his deteriorating thoughts and he recognised it as the bloody Weasel's brother.

"Feeling alright there, Malfoy?" The voice enquired evenly, bringing Draco back to the here and now. "Do you need a glass of water or something; you're looking rather, erm, pale...?"

"No," he snapped out with a snarl, not needing (or wanting) the older Weasel's concern. "No, I bloody well don't! Would you just shut the bloody hell up and leave me alone!"

"There's no need for such language, ferret - you're attitude certainly hasn't chan-"

"Fuck off!"

"Obviously, decent isn't a word in your vocabul-"

A rude hand gesture!

Then Draco abruptly turned his back and walked off, cutting Fred off short. In the ensuing silence, Fred decided that silence was the best (safest) bet and continued with his watch.

Well at least the Weasel has the sense to keep quiet, Draco thought, leaning against a nearby tree and casting around the pockets of his robes, back still turned on Fred. At least I have space to think now, to plan things, to get things back under control. His hand clenched around the box he was looking for and, with a shaking hand, he pulled out a battered packet of Muggle cigarettes. A filthy habit, he knew, a filthy habit that was popular with filthy Muggles. But, for some reason, Draco had kept the pack and, on nights such as these, he often found himself sucking on the end of one.

He fished a cigarette out of the packet, lifted his wand, lit the tip and inhaled. The smoke filled his lungs and the drug did it'd job. Draco felt instantly calmed. Now he could think straight, now he could, now he was back in control. His mind wandered backwards and he remembered how he'd found the pack.

The packet had been confiscated off a Mudblood fifth-year a year ago - or was it lifetime ago? He really couldn't remember and really didn't care; after all, time held no meaning for him anymore. However, he did remember that he'd taken the battered packet, carried it to his dorm, took out his wand, lit his first cigarette, and promptly choked. It was a horrible sensation; a sensation that had made him throw up, a sensation that he'd somehow got used to. The sickness that he felt every time he lifted one to his lips, somehow, made him feel better. He didn't know why, but the fact he was smoking an item banned by the new dark laws, that he was in fact killing himself in two very lethal ways, gave him some odd feeling of control. It was as if he had control over his own life and death.

But, he was drifting again. Thinking of unimportant things when he should be thinking about his future, when he should be thinking of his plans. He must find his former professor, for finding Snape was imperative. He would know, he would understand - he would help him find it! For when the book was found, well, then the subtle winds of chance would finally waft his way.



Fred watched Malfoy scowl intensely at the soft orange glow that lit the tip of his Muggle stick and wondered. The younger boy was definitely acting strangely, if not a little bizarrely. To tell the truth, although his little laughing act inside had been effective, Fred had not been taken in by it; he had taken it as a sham, as a piece of proficient performance. After all, it was one of the easiest things in the world - to pretend to be crazy. But, now, he was not so sure - as the Malfoy boy's current behaviour had certainly given him pause for thought. The boy was behaving erratically and Fred wondered about his state of mental health. Definitely, he thought. I must definitely tell Harry about his behaviour; he could be a danger to us - and Harry would most certainly want to know this new information. However, he got no further with this train of thought as his mother's voice could suddenly be heard clearly through the slightly open window.

"Well, Alistor - I respect your opinion (of course), but I must say that I trust the boy. He seemed genuine enough for me...."

Fred did not hear Moody's response, but he noted his mother's strained tone. She sounds about ready to lose it, he mused wryly, grinning as he thought of his mother's impending eruption. And even old Mad-Eye would buckle under that! Chuckling away happily to his own thoughts and eager to hear Moody's imminent dressing-down, Fred suddenly felt a pair of eyes bore through him. Looking up, he was not surprised to see Draco staring disconcertingly at him, and the look in those narrowed silver eyes (he had to admit) disturbed him. Fred opened his mouth to question the other boy when another voice boomed out.

"Trust him! TRUST HIM! I will never trust that maggot of a Malfoy!"

Both boy's heads turned abruptly to the window.


-----



"Alistair, please..." Charlie Weasley could be heard saying. "This is not the time for slurs and insults, we have an important decision to come to..."

Stood on the other side of the room, George watched his brother's slightly pained face and nodded to himself. Charlie was right, things could do with calming down in here, and if his mother's face was anything to go by - things needed soothing over right away. Scratching, habitually, at the back of his neck, George added his piece to the escalating conversation.

"I think it's a case of, 'better the devil you know...'" He didn't get much further as Alistor Moody exploded again.

"That's the sort of thinking that gave him this advantage - that's the sort of thinking that defeated Hogwarts!"

Neville, stood just behind Moody, bobbed his head nervously in agreement.

"I agree," he squeaked out, and then flinched when Molly settled her dangerous glare on him. Her eyes glittered with determination and her hands fell to her hips; her lips pursed and her foot started tapping an irritated beat on the threadbare flooring. Harry, still sat behind the table, holding this unruly court, knew the signs. Molly was going to explode. However, before he could but in, or Molly could even open her mouth, another scorn filled voice interrupted.

"Oh, really, Neville," Ginny's voice dripped with sarcasm. "Anyone would thing you're still scared of Draco ... Honestly, we're not still kids in playing in Hogwarts anymore..."

"That may be, Ginny," Harry broke in, finally having his say. "But, just because we're not children anymore; no matter that we've changed and put stupid, petty rivalries behind us - doesn't mean that Malfoy's not dangerous. We could be walking right in to a big trap...."

"Here, here!" cried Moody, striding forward and giving Harry a friendly, if hard, pat on the back. "Finally, the boy is seeing sense..."

Molly, torn between exasperation to scold her daughter's sarcasm and the desire to let Alistor know exactly what she thought, decided she would be heard. Sending a heated warning glare at her daughter, who was on her feet and trembling with emotion, she began.

"Harry, dear," she started, not letting herself be distracted by the look in Harry's eyes. The boy had grown so much, true. But, to her he was still her sweet orphaned child. "Well, Harry - I understand your point, dear - and I expect every person in this room would agree we must continue with caution ... But, my Ginny has confirmed part of his story and truly believes in his, shall we say, change of heart? Now, I know some people in this room are of the opinion that my daughter is a liar (here her glare fell on the scowling scarred face of Moody), but I can assure you that my child is no liar and a fair judge of character-"

"Harrumph!" A loud snort of derision escaped Moody's twisted mouth. "A fair judge, you say," he continued, his magical eye spinning wildly around the room. "Isn't this the girl who befriended a certain Tom Riddle in the guise of a diary..."

The room erupted with the raised protestations of the Weasley clan.

"How dare you! My daughter was vulnerable, she was possessed!"

"I was only twelve - how could you? I would never knowingly...."

"My sister was tricked! She was young and impressionable! You have some nerve, Moody!" George was instantly at his sisters side, hugging his sister protectively. He pinned Moody with an accusing stare and his mind plotted schemes of revenge. Ginny, on the other hand, held the gaze of the boy with the green eyes, of the boy she used to love and respect so much. Hot tears fell down her cheeks, but she was not ashamed of them for they were in fact tears of burning anger. How could Harry not trust her judgement? How could he let Moody talk about her that way? How could he just stare un-blinkingly at her like that, as though he did not care? Emotions in the small room were running high and Charlie decided to be the one to do something about it; he stepped towards the table and Harry, eyebrows knitted in consternation.

"Harry," he uttered quietly but firmly. "What do you believe we should do?"

Harry took off his glasses and rubbed his tired eyes before answering, wearily, "I don't know, I just don't know."

Charlie tapped at his forehead in annoyance and frustration as he fished around his mind for some form of answer. "I know there are may issues," he began, but was cut off by a, as yet, unheard, dreamy voice. From her place in the far corner, Luna began to speak.

"I know you still have lots of issues with Draco Malfoy, Harry," she murmured softly, her eyes still fixed on the dream-weaver she was making. "But, I think it's a case of trust against need. Yes, we would be silly to trust him so soon - but this is not a case of trust, it's a case of need. Charlie was right, we need help, Harry and after what happened to Professor McGonagall - we need all the help we can get!" Luna stopped, raised her eyes from her handiwork, and looked Harry directly in the eyes.

"And I know you'll do the right thing, Harry," she added, her eyes watching his intently. "I trust you."

The room fell silent as all pondered over her words and Harry let out a soft sigh. Making a decision was hard, one of the hardest he had to make, but finally he knew what he should do. He stood up abruptly, making his chair fly backwards with a cringe worthy screech of wood against wood, winced, and riffled a distracted hand through his unruly black hair.

"We shall vote on it," he stated simply. "Those in favour in welcoming Draco Malfoy's aid, say aye."

"Aye!"

"Aye!"

"Aye!"

"I think it would be for the best Harry dear..."

Sniff. "Yes!"

Harry ignored Molly's words and mentally tallied the count. Five in favour then, he was outnumbered, but he proceeded with the count anyway. "And those not in favour, say nay...."

"N - n - nay!"

"NAY!" Alistor boomed.

"Nay," Harry added his own voice to the negative. Furtive glances were shared across the room. Molly nodded sharply to her eldest son present and Charlie asked the unasked question.

"So, Harry," he enquired, watching the young man thoughtfully. "Does that mean he's in, should I go and get Fred for his say-"

"No," Harry answered quickly, with a shake of the head. "No, there's no need. Even if he voted against him the ayes have still won-"

"But, does it mean he's in?" Ginny burst out, unable to control herself. "Are we going to allow him - or are you going to have the final say?"

Harry eyed at her sadly and wondered just when it was that her opinion of him had changed so much. Did she really think so little of him now? Not that it mattered, of course. They had voted and the decision had been made. He sighed again.

"He's in, Gin," he told shortly, not meeting with her eyes. Then, turning to Charlie, he told him simply, with only the slightest hint of bitterness. "Let them in again please, Charlie. I have to give the ferret the good news...." And, with that, he turned his back on the room and made his way to the fireplace and an scowling Alistor Moody, they fell into quiet discussion.

Charlie watched their animated discussion for a few seconds more, noting the tenseness in Harry's shoulders. He knew the boy was under a lot of pressure and he wondered briefly if they had reached the right decision. But, that was of no matter now, a decision had been made and it was his job to let the Malfoy boy in. So, with a quick shrug of the shoulders, Charlie turned, strode across the room and flung open the door.


-----



Outside, the two boys had listened in silence to the rise and fall of the debate inside. They had listened intently to each raised voice that had rung out and had strained their ears when the conversation had been to low to decipher. But, neither of the boys had heard the conclusion, although they both had a good idea of the outcome.

Draco had been pleased, if a little surprised, at the Weasley family's defence of him. True, he had expected as much from Ginny and her mother hadn't been such a surprise - but the Weasley brother's support had truly surprised him; this was so much better than he'd expected. That old bloody fool of an Auror hadn't gotten his way, it seemed, thank Merlin! And, although, he hadn't been able to overhear the result of the consensus - he was totally sure things had swung his way, by about four votes at least. A self-satisfied smirk inched it's way on to his face, and over by the door Fred scrutinised him carefully.

I definitely need to tell Harry now, Fred thought, as he was now certain that Draco was a threat. Suddenly, the door swung open, letting out a warming orange glow, and Fred turned to see his elder brother standing there. A look of understanding quickly passed between the brothers and both turned to look at Draco.

Draco stared back and his smirk widened. "I assume," he drawled smugly, in his most superior tone, "that by your sudden appearance, I am wanted back inside...."

"Just shut it, Malfoy," Charlie interrupted, jerking a thumb over his shoulder. "Get inside and get rid of the attitude!"

Draco made as if to say something, but then thought the better of it. There was something about this Weasley that stopped him. He was unsure to what it was exactly, but Draco had the notion that this was not a man to reckon with; it was something about the eyes. So, instead, Draco straightened his shoulders and strode casually forward. A most superior look adorned his face and his condescending sneer was perfect. He approached the brothers slowly, his eyes glittering maliciously at them.

"Hurry it up, ferret," Fred snapped out, feeling the sudden urge to punch him. "We haven't got all day!"

"Manners, please," Draco mocked as he neared and stopped in front of them. Then, with a dismissive flick of his eyes, he sneered and moved elegantly pass them and into the room.

As soon as he entered, Ginny was at his side, reaching for his hand. Draco let her take it, but his eyes were fixed on Harry, who was stood beside the fireplace with a thoughtful frown wrinkling his forehead. Draco felt an odd surge of pleasure course through him; it was he who had caused him to look so concerned, it was him who Potter was thinking about; Draco felt very proud (and somehow comforted) to be back in his place as a thorn in Harry's side! Finally, he mattered again, his place on this earth once more meant something, he could become a force to contend with. A discreet kiss on the lobe of his ear distracted him from his thoughts.

"Your in," whispered Ginny, her warm, excited eyes twinkling up at him. "They accept you, they want your help..."

Draco looked down at her and felt something real and warm heat his stomach; a rare, genuine smile touched his lips. He was lucky to have Ginny's trust, even luckier to be allowed to bask in her warmth; he reached down to touch her hair, that hair that was that wicked shade of red that so enticed him. She smiled warmly up at him with her honest large brown eyes.

"We accept your offer, Malfoy." Harry's voice interrupted their moment. "But, don't think for a moment that we trust you - and, believe me, the slightest wrong mov eor one foot out of line will lead to you being incarcerated - or worse..."

Draco looked up and straight into Harry's bright green eyes; they glinted him a warning. Both boys stared intently at each other and Draco's lip curled into a sneer.

"Is that so, Potter," he drawled, issuing a challenge; Harry pinned him with his gaze, his eyes glinting with ire.

"Yes, it is so," Harry responded slowly, biting off each word. "Now, get out of my sight Malfoy - and be prepared to leave for The Black Spot at dawn."

Harry sent him one last hard glare, turned, motioned for Alistor, Fred, George and Charlie to follow him and made his way through a small door; the others followed him quickly and a frowning Neville watched them go.

"Come with me to the kitchen," Ginny whispered into his ear and pulled him forward. "Mum will make you some food; there's plenty of soup left and I'm sure she made fresh bread today - and I think there's some sausages left...."

Draco drowned her voice out and let her lead him to the kitchen, but his thoughts were not on the food -nor were they on Ginny for that matter. No, he was thinking of Potter's final words, The Black Spot. Potter had said The Black Spot! Oh, Merlin - things were going much better than he'd ever dreamed; they were heading to The Black Spot, that horrible landscape where the dark creatures lurked. A cruel, dark smile slowly crept on to Draco's lips. Oh, yes, he was certainly going to enjoy his visit to The Black Spot.



A/N: With this one I'm going in a different direction. It's going to be a much darker story, which will deal darker themes. It will probably stay a 15+ though as it is not really a romance story and will deal more with themes such as revenge, betrayal and the insanity caused by war. And, although, this is a pre HBP story, I will be trying to keep the characters closer to cannon.

That being said, I hope you enjoyed the story so far and all feedback (constructive criticism also welcome) is very much appreciated. Oh, and I will be updating this story more on a regular basis from now on.

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